Game On
July 16, 2010 11:09 PM   Subscribe

Just over three weeks after being sworn in, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard visited the Governor-General this morning and called a federal election for the 21st of August.

Good sources of information about the campaign include:

-Election nerd par excellence Antony Green's blog.

-Crikey's Pollbludger and Pollytics blogs for news and poll number-crunching respectively.

-The SMH and Federal election sites.

-Fairfax Radio journalist Latika Bourke's list of 'journos, politicians and staffers tweeting about the 2010 Aus Election'.

-The twitter hashtags aus2010 and ausvotes are both being used.

If you have turned 18 or moved house since the last election you may not be enrolled to vote. You can check your enrolment status here. If you aren't enrolled you have until 8PM on monday the 19th of July. You can enroll here.

Perhaps the best piece of news related to the election campaign is that the chaser will be returning to ABC TV with a series called YES WE CANBERRA!
posted by the duck by the oboe (119 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
And here we had money on august 28.
posted by mosessis at 11:18 PM on July 16, 2010

Worst. Federal Election. Ever.
posted by Jimbob at 11:18 PM on July 16, 2010

Don't forget: you'll only have till 8pm on the day the writs are issued to enrol to vote or three days to change your details- probably Monday or Tuesday- make it happen, so you can have your say..
posted by Philby at 11:31 PM on July 16, 2010

... That was fast.
posted by Xany at 11:51 PM on July 16, 2010

Don't foget the #mofo hashtag in honour of Gillard's persistent use of the phrase "moving forward".
posted by tinlids at 12:06 AM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Good on our Ozzie cuzies. Democracy is a good thing.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 1:29 AM on July 17, 2010

Ooh, I'd better sort out this postal vote business.

One thing I do love about Australia - short electoral campaigns.
posted by twirlypen at 1:34 AM on July 17, 2010

Shhh, I'm too busy enjoying the Hawke-Keating flashbacks.
posted by rory at 1:57 AM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yawn, isn't there a recent open thread about Austrian politics already?
posted by the noob at 1:58 AM on July 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

Worst. Federal Election. Ever.

I dunno. It looks like it could be very nice. Everyone agrees on everything, so it won't be too abrasive. Plus this time we get a third ballot paper to vote for PresidentPrime Minister.
posted by GeckoDundee at 2:19 AM on July 17, 2010

Yawn, isn't there a recent open thread about Austrian politics already?

Heehee. Austrian politics are my favourite!
posted by mek at 2:26 AM on July 17, 2010

Everyone agrees on everything? Good to see democracy in action!
posted by cthuljew at 2:27 AM on July 17, 2010

Cassandra the octopus (Paul was busy, apparently) predicts a Gillard win.
posted by une_heure_pleine at 2:28 AM on July 17, 2010

The last thread was about the knifing of Rudd. This one is about the election of either Gillard or Abbott.

I always enjoy election season. Happy to see the Chaser boys back for another round too. Anyone sick of the "Moving Forward" slogan already?
posted by harriet vane at 2:34 AM on July 17, 2010

Just took a look at key dates at the AEC website for the enrollment update information. I assume those 8pm cutoffs are Eastern Standard time?
posted by harriet vane at 2:42 AM on July 17, 2010

The AEC 'enroll to vote' page says it's local time.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 2:45 AM on July 17, 2010

I feel bad for you guys. Your politics are like backyard wrestling to our WrestleMania III. Enjoy your reasoned debate, suckers, we're gonna have the stupidest, most cynical, racist, lying assholes in a cage match to determine who can fuck up the economy the most for their own personal profit. It's gonna be the best tv ever.
posted by stavrogin at 3:07 AM on July 17, 2010 [7 favorites]

fta - Mr Abbott: "We'll end the waste, we'll repay the debt, we'll stop the new taxes and we'll stop the boats."

What are the boats that he is referring to?
posted by lampshade at 3:36 AM on July 17, 2010

Perhaps the best piece of news related to the election campaign is that the chaser will be returning to ABC TV with a series called YES WE CANBERRA!

Nah. Those of us with a sense of humour (and a dislike of professional students who dressed up and got through a security barricade once but still just can't stop reminding us of their magnificence in the realm of comedy coz they did that, remember that, oh god, we were so cool and arty and edgy and the whole world was aghast... and if you aren't aghast, well, YOU JUST DON'T GET THE JOKE) will be watching the test pattern instead.

I find The Chasers about as funny as cancer.

Bring on the Gillardtine vs The Mad Monk, though. Way more entertaining than the Chaser's War On Humour.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 3:43 AM on July 17, 2010

What are the boats that he is referring to?

The brown and yellow perils descending across the oceans from Indonesia, looking for the land of milk, honey, and welfare payments.

(If you believe Abbott and Gillard, that is. I'd like to mock, by my own shitstain of a Prime Minister has started trying to play this one.)
posted by rodgerd at 3:45 AM on July 17, 2010

I feel bad for you guys. Your politics are like backyard wrestling to our WrestleMania III. Enjoy your reasoned debate, suckers, we're gonna have the stupidest, most cynical, racist, lying assholes
Is Australian politics known for it's reasoned debate? I mean I don't follow it that closely but the last major issue they faced was a big push to censor the internet, china style -- fronted by someone who seemed computer illiterate.

Before Rudd took over I remember a major Criticism of Rudd was that he was playing off racial animus in order to stay in power. For example the camps for Asylum seekers, things like that. There was the quote about Obama: "If I were running al Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008, and pray, as many times as possible, for a victory not only for Obama, but also for the Democrats,"

Hell, Rupert Murdoch (founder of Fox News's parent company Newscorp) got is from Australia.

etc. So where exactly does this idea that Australia has "reasoned debate" -- at least compared to U.S. politics come from? The level of discourse in Australia doesn't seem to be any better then that of the U.S.

OTOH, their economy hasn't been hit very hard by the global downturn, and they seem to be managing pretty well. I do think parliamentary systems in general are much better able to handle challenges, rather then the whack system we have in the U.S.
posted by delmoi at 3:47 AM on July 17, 2010

What are the boats that he is referring to?

Boats full of Asylum seekers, I would think. Basically the Australian version of "Secure the border!!!" Except the number of Asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat is far less the the number of people who come across the U.S. Mexico border every year (not that I'm excusing the rhetoric)
posted by delmoi at 3:49 AM on July 17, 2010

My prediction; no Monte Carlo simulations or analysis of polling in marginal seats involved. Coalition pick up 2-3 seats, Labor wins, Greens get another senator. Ok that last bit is just wishful thinking but a man can dream, can't he?
posted by Jimbob at 3:58 AM on July 17, 2010

Holy shit, delmoi is saying mildly non-negative things about australia! Account hack? :p
posted by Jimbob at 4:03 AM on July 17, 2010

The "pray for an Obama victory" quote was actually said by Rudd's prime ministerial predecessor, John Howard. He was known for being cozy with Bush and the Republican party.
posted by chmmr at 4:06 AM on July 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

Okay to be serious, the level of discourse is at least ONE level above the US, in that at least we done have gun-totin' Jesus freak "tea baggers" dominating the debate. The word for this election? APATHY. Thank "Bob" for cmpulsory voting.
posted by Jimbob at 4:08 AM on July 17, 2010

I miss Paul Keating. He was always hilarious in Parliament.
posted by Ritchie at 4:14 AM on July 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

Cassandra the octopus (Paul was busy, apparently) predicts a Gillard win.

I don't believe her.
posted by randomination at 4:42 AM on July 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

Cheers to Australia, one of the first places where Greens have completely superceded wishy-washy liberal centrists as the third party.
posted by imperium at 4:44 AM on July 17, 2010

So where exactly does this idea that Australia has "reasoned debate" -- at least compared to U.S. politics come from?

I don't think it's a reputation for 'reasoned debate' so much but for social discussion. Voting is compulsory in Australia. This results in us having to take our compulsory democratic contribution with some gravity and we tend to talk about it amongst ourselves. The closest thing we have to a right to 'freedom of speech' is a number of High Court cases that have confirmed our constitutional requirement to be informed voters.

If compulsory voting sounds bad and an imposition, it's not really. Elections are held on a Saturday from 8am to 6pm but one can always vote beforehand in person or via a postal vote. Polling stations are usually in primary schools, community halls etc all over the nation and are a great opportunity for a Saturday fundraising snag and tray of home-made slice sold by the P&C.

I like voting. Each time I vote I want to go to the back of the queue and do it again.
posted by Kerasia at 4:47 AM on July 17, 2010 [6 favorites]

I assume the second "Rudd" in delmoi's second paragraph is supposed to be "Howard". It makes a lot more sense that way.

etc. So where exactly does this idea that Australia has "reasoned debate" -- at least compared to U.S. politics come from? The level of discourse in Australia doesn't seem to be any better then that of the U.S.

I'd say that the level of debate here very rarely reaches the lows that it does in the US, as for some reason we just don't have as many insane people who are interesting in politics. And as bad as Howard was, he was no GWB.

On the other hand, the best Australian discourse is rarely as good as the best to be found in the US. 99% of the political journalism here is either focussed on the personalities of individual politicians, in a sort of great national soap opera/comedy show that ignores or misunderstands the merits of each party's policies, or is made up of the predictable patterns of sparks produced by dozens of opinion columnists all working at once on exactly the same axes they've been grinding for years.

Obviously there's a lot of that in the US as well, but in their much larger media market there seems to be at least a little room for really high-quality stuff.

-Crikey's Pollbludger and Pollytics blogs for news and poll number-crunching respectively.

Pollytics is the place to go for actual analysis, rather than just more opinion. He singlehandedly redeems Crikey, which is pretty mediocre otherwise.

Perhaps the best piece of news related to the election campaign is that the chaser will be returning to ABC TV with a series called YES WE CANBERRA!

Bleah. The funny parts of the Chaser, hilarious as they are, unfortunately don't make it worthwhile to sit through the unfunny parts.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:52 AM on July 17, 2010

Ritchie I miss Paul Keating. He was always hilarious in Parliament.

Me also. I cried In '96.
To be fair on myself, I was shitfaced at the time.
posted by Duke999R at 5:13 AM on July 17, 2010

The last winter election was in 1987 and they are deemed risky for governments because voters are generally sullen over the winter.

Wow. That's some deep analysis right there.

Ok, so she's doing this to shake off the "you weren't elected so you're weak" thing? She's trying to ride the success of the mining tax thing so is calling for the minimum 5-week campaign now to get a mandate and maybe shut the folks like Abbottup a little bit? And it's risky because just a few votes could lose her everything? Does that about cover it?
posted by mediareport at 5:41 AM on July 17, 2010

I like voting. Each time I vote I want to go to the back of the queue and do it again.

Early and often was my grandfather's motto.
posted by bystander at 6:20 AM on July 17, 2010

she's doing this to shake off the "you weren't elected so you're weak" thing?

She's doing this because she thinks leaving it later (until up to April next year) will result in a worse result for Labor.
posted by bystander at 6:22 AM on July 17, 2010

delmoi, literally throwing shit at each other is reasoned debate compared to what the absolute fucking nutcases like Sarah Palin, Rand Paul and Sharon Angle say here in America with the full support of one of the two major parties. Hell, David Vitter, the diaper wearing whoremonger senator from LA, just came out as a birther.
posted by stavrogin at 6:23 AM on July 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

Is this d'Alpuget book just an update on her original biography? That's how she and Hawkey hooked up originally I believe, yeah?

I think Keating is a sour bag of resentment these days. Sure, he was entertaining with the long sword or even bare knuckles back in the day but he's never updated has he? Middle aged acerbic cynic turns into cranky old fart. It's kind of sad and a little pathetic.

I don't really give a fuck about this election. Labor will win undoubtedly, but the knifing of the Ruddbot has turned me off having any deep interest. Fuck 'em.

Aaaah delmoi delmoi DELMOI!! You consistent tosser. Mefi's resident Australian affairs commenter. Thank goD you once worked with an ex-GreekAussie guy so you could become an expert on all aspects of Aussie society. We are blessed.
posted by peacay at 6:37 AM on July 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

mediareport - nail on head.

I'm with Kerasia - I like voting day. But at our last state election, the primary school near us didn't have either a sausage sizzle *or* a cake stall, and I was mightily pissed off. I'm sure a sausage in a bun on election day is a basic principle set out in the Constitution, isn't it?

My favourite of the Chaser's stuff was the old CNNNN in 2002. I'd love to see a return to the fake news reporting instead of the War on Everything format.
posted by harriet vane at 7:19 AM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

The older I get, the more I appreciate, even miss Keating. I wish he would crank out some memoirs.
posted by No-sword at 7:28 AM on July 17, 2010

ell, Rupert Murdoch (founder of Fox News's parent company Newscorp) got is from Australia.

Mel Gibson is from Australia too! And Kylie Minogue. Plus David Malouf. Bunch of Rightists.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:40 AM on July 17, 2010

I say "Let's get it done!"
posted by Wolof at 7:46 AM on July 17, 2010

delmoi: [several cherry-picked anecdotes then] So where exactly does this idea that Australia has "reasoned debate" -- at least compared to U.S. politics come from? The level of discourse in Australia doesn't seem to be any better then that of the U.S.

One key difference between the Australian (or UK) political landscape and the US political landscape is the almost complete absence of right-wing fringe groups on the political landscape. Glenn Beck, Fox News, birthers, the tea party, radical pro-lifers, gun crazies, the anti-gay Christian Right, accusations of communism or Nazism -- these are all pretty much non-starters.
posted by dontjumplarry at 7:51 AM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

(yeah, a few too many "political landscapes" in that comment)
posted by dontjumplarry at 7:52 AM on July 17, 2010

--Mel Gibson is from Australia America too!--

Born in NYC and spent first 12 years there. He's yours. Please keep him. Murdoch too.
posted by peacay at 8:19 AM on July 17, 2010

I'm sure a sausage in a bun on election day is a basic principle set out in the Constitution, isn't it?

I think many voters feel like they've had a sausage in a bun after an election.
posted by binturong at 8:48 AM on July 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

Polling stations are [...] a great opportunity for a Saturday fundraising snag and tray of home-made slice sold by the P&C.

Sorry, what does this mean?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:25 AM on July 17, 2010

snag - sausage
slice - kind of shallow cake of varying ingredients
p&c - parents and citizens association (school fundraising thingie .. I think)
posted by peacay at 9:40 AM on July 17, 2010

Aha, thanks.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:57 AM on July 17, 2010

snag - sexual intercourse
slice - homemade amphetamine similar to the Czech "cake"
p&c - BDSM club with locations throughout Australia and New Zealand
posted by jtron at 10:15 AM on July 17, 2010 [6 favorites]

Aha, thanks. 
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:22 AM on July 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

complete absence of right-wing fringe groups

One Nation (Australia)
One Australia policy
posted by bhnyc at 11:25 AM on July 17, 2010

One Nation
One Australia

Fair point. However, at the moment, One Nation is polling around 0.6% even in its stronghold of Queensland. I can't think of any other god, guns and flags parties or interest groups or media commentators that are gaining any traction.

However, maybe that's because the mainstream co-opted some of their policies. Racism continues to be a defining feature of mainstream Australian politics in a way that it just isn't in America or the UK. Swings and roundabouts I guess.
posted by dontjumplarry at 11:53 AM on July 17, 2010

It strikes me as somewhat contradictory that on the one hand, voting is compulsory, but you also only have two days to make sure you're properly registered in your district/riding.

Am I missing something?
posted by dry white toast at 11:58 AM on July 17, 2010

It strikes me as somewhat contradictory that on the one hand, voting is compulsory, but you also only have two days to make sure you're properly registered in your district/riding.

Am I missing something?

Well, you don't have two days. If you moved house 6 months ago, you should have updated your voter registration information 6 months ago. If you haven't got around to it by now, its your own bloody fault that you'll now be rushing to the post office on Monday.
posted by Jimbob at 3:04 PM on July 17, 2010

On the one hand, I would rather have ANYONE running this place than Tony Abbott. On the other, I don't really care - I just want The Chaser jackasses to go away. They haven't been funny since mid way through CNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN.
posted by cerulgalactus at 4:19 PM on July 17, 2010

That guy clearly has a violent reaction to the sound of dog whistles...
posted by Jimbob at 5:59 PM on July 17, 2010

If you haven't got around to it by now, its your own bloody fault that you'll now be rushing to the post office on Monday.

I think the worst thing about the enroll before the writs are issued (or by 8pm that night) rule is it gives new voters less time to enroll - ie. kids about to turn 18, who have never voted before. A) you know what kids are like they put everything off until the last minute and might forget and B) it really depended on what date the election was called for - if someone was turning 18 the following week, they had to wait to find out when the election was being held.

If people haven't updated their address details, can't they still at least vote on the other electorate?

On the election in general, I'm disappointed how clearly centrist the Labor Party has become, even feeling quite conservative on many fronts. That said, anything to keep Tony Abbott out of the top job!

And there's a possibility that the Greens will take a lower house seat in the Division of Melbourne. That would make me excited.
posted by crossoverman at 6:47 PM on July 17, 2010

Yeah, you used to have a couple of weeks to make sure your enrollment details were up to date. The quick cutoff was put in place by Howard to make sure that young people, travellers, renters and people who don't have access to anything other than the 6pm news (which never bothers to report on this stuff) don't get a say in how our country is run.
posted by harriet vane at 7:31 PM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

If people haven't updated their address details, can't they still at least vote on the other electorate?

Well a *cough* mate of mine *cough* did this quite successfully, when the NT decided to call an election a week after he moved to Tasmania.
posted by Jimbob at 7:48 PM on July 17, 2010

I just want The Chaser jackasses to go away. They haven't been funny since mid way through

Hmm, I thought they were the best thing that has ever happened at APEC.
posted by the noob at 8:18 PM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

And there's a possibility that the Greens will take a lower house seat in the Division of Melbourne. That would make me excited.

Before Lindsay Tanner announced his resignation, I was kind of sad about the prospect of the Greens taking Melbourne. Now that he's gone - it's on!
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 12:40 AM on July 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Cassandra the octopus

Best. Octopus name. Ever.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:39 AM on July 18, 2010

New poll shows Labor's support slipping

I have complete faith that that will be rectified in the coming weeks by Tony Abbott doing or saying something extremely offensive to a large slice of the population.
posted by Jimbob at 2:25 AM on July 18, 2010

Labor's primary vote slipped - to 38% v 44% for the Coalition.

All this means is that they've switched from asking people on a two-party-preferred basis, to a primary vote basis.

The apparent drop in Labor votes is simply reflecting those people who always vote Greens 1, Labor 2.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:58 AM on July 18, 2010

I can confirm this. As a Greens voter, it's rare I can find anyone on the ticket apart from Labor to put at number 2.
posted by Jimbob at 3:16 AM on July 18, 2010

And our old friend Possum backs it up as well - labor behind on primaries, but ahead after greens preferences.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:34 AM on July 18, 2010

It's time! (for Hawke, I mean)
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:37 AM on July 18, 2010

I remember, in highschool, it was fashionable to hate Keating, and I was always defending the man. I'm starting to see where they were coming from.
posted by Jimbob at 3:51 AM on July 18, 2010

I have complete faith that that will be rectified in the coming weeks by Tony Abbott doing or saying something extremely offensive to a large slice of the population.

posted by crossoverman at 5:35 AM on July 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Even more than in 2007, this is about who you're voting against rather than for. Each party has deep flaws, we're pretty poorly served in Australia at the moment by our political class, it's almost as bad as our media, who will reach historic lows of breathtaking inanity during this election.

Liberals - well I hardly need to say anything do I. Anyone who reckons Barnaby Joyce would be a good Finance Minister is clearly deranged. The worst thing about the Libs is that apparently nearly half of Australia (2PP) think that Tony Abbott would be a responsible Prime Minister.

ALP - what a bunch of evil, careerist, poll-driven ratfuckers. Gillard is whip-smart and genuinely committed to education and workers rights, but apart from that she takes her advice from Mark I'm actually a lizard person Arbib, fer crissakes.

Greens - still got a LOT to prove, they have a bunch of wacky policies that if implemented would spell disaster for Australia. They need to have the fight between realos and fundies and have the realos win. However, they've been responsible in the Senate in the last term and since they're not forming government, they will get my first preference Upper House vote.

If Abbott wins I don't think I'm ever buying a newspaper or turning on the news on the telly ever again. My internet browser will have to get a special filter that doesn't allow me to read any Australian political news ever again. Maybe I'll start learning danish.
posted by wilful at 5:13 PM on July 18, 2010

BTW, this thread needs the tag "movingforward"
posted by wilful at 5:14 PM on July 18, 2010

And Labor has reached a preference deal with the Greens in all states, which means DON'T LET THE DOOR HIT YOUR ARSE ON THE WAY OUT, SENATOR STEVE.
posted by Jimbob at 5:38 PM on July 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

"L is for Labour, L is for lice".

Not sure of the provenance of this, but it was on crikey today, and it amused me.
posted by wilful at 9:19 PM on July 18, 2010

John Quiggin's case for voting Green is pretty much where I was at.

Voting Green, but holding my nose.
posted by wilful at 9:59 PM on July 18, 2010

Oh I can't wait to get rid of Senator Fielding. Only a yogurt would have thought it was better to do a preference deal with him instead of the Greens.
posted by harriet vane at 11:36 PM on July 18, 2010

Hey, don't go badmouthing yoghurt!

It's way too cultured to associate with Fielding.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:59 PM on July 18, 2010 [3 favorites]

At a child's birthday party this past weekend, I found myself involved in a political discussion.. only after making a few pointed comments about my delight at Fielding's departure, and expression of hope that the Greens might end up with a few more seats, did I find out my opponent was the State Secretary for Family First.

Somehow, I managed to avoid asking him if he was a religious nutjob, but it was a near-run thing.
posted by coriolisdave at 10:44 PM on July 27, 2010

Oops! But how could you have known? I mean, you tend to assume that your social circle is made up of relatively normal people. A Liberal voter? Sure. Someone actively working to get Fielding re-elected? WTF?

Do you have to be a member of the church (which church is it that's behind FF? or is it a group of them?) to be part of the party infrastructure? Maybe this person just saw a well-paid job and took it.

That's wishful thinking, isn't it?
posted by harriet vane at 7:41 AM on July 28, 2010

That was very well behaved of you.

Steve Fielding, I will almost miss you for the humour you bring to Australian politics.
posted by wilful at 6:22 PM on July 28, 2010

Do you have to be a member of the church (which church is it that's behind FF? or is it a group of them?) to be part of the party infrastructure?

It's the whole Assemblies of God / Hillsong / Catch the Fire kind of group. Nothing official. And FF will deny it. But that's where the money is coming from. I don't think you have to be a member of one of one of those Churches to get involved with Family First - judging by the candidates I've seen of theirs, the only requirements are a pulse and the ability to project an image of Firm Protestant Heterosexuality.
posted by Jimbob at 6:38 PM on July 28, 2010

Ah, Catch the Fire Ministries. Here's their latest press release:

1. A vote for Labor will be a vote for Greens. “The current alliance that Labor has forged with the Greens is a real disaster for Australia and Australians. We are sure that this election will be a very close one in which Labor will have to go to bed with the Greens to get into power. This will result in Greens policy constantly reflected in every decision Labor makes.

2. Ms Gillard is living in a de-facto relationship. “Seven out of 10 couples living in de-facto relationships claim that the men are scared to get married because they fear losing half of their belongings through divorce. By living as a de-facto Ms Gillard is setting a very bad example and is a poor role model, especially for women. Most women I have personally spoken to around the country would like to get married, have children and settle down with a husband and family.

3. Ms Gillard’s public declaration that she is an Atheist and does not believe in God goes directly against 80% of Australians who believe in God or a god, according to the last Census, of which 64% claimed to be Christians. Her atheism will reflect in certain policy decisions which will be against the majority of Australians. Are we going to let the minority rule in this free and democratic nation?

4. Ms Gillard does not have children. “Though some may think this isn’t important, it’s a huge problem when one is the Prime Minister because that title means making a raft of decisions on everything from childcare policies to Centrelink benefits taking in Education, Marriage and Family. A person must have a child to understand how to properly raise a child and as PM, Ms Gillard will be severely lacking in personal parental knowledge. I am sure parents in Australia will agree with me on this. I believe the next generation will be at a great disadvantage with a Prime Minister who does not know what their real needs are.

5. Ms Gillard’s refusing to take the Oath on the Bible. “This is a gross mockery of the Judiciary system and what our forefathers established our nation on - the Judeo-Christian foundation. Every court room has a Bible because it is considered the true word of God. At every court hearing, you are asked to hold the Bible in your right hand and take the oath by saying, ‘I will speak the truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.’ I know all about this from personal experience when the Islamic Council of Victoria sued me under the Racial and Religious Vilification Laws. I spent five years fighting for Freedom of Speech and Religion in Australia, which we won in the Supreme Court. Does this mean that the Bible will be removed from court rooms if she becomes the elected Prime Minister?”

posted by wilful at 7:02 PM on July 28, 2010

Heh. I like the "64% of Australians are Christian" line. It's a shame only 16% of Australians actually, you know, go to church.
posted by Jimbob at 8:00 PM on July 28, 2010

I hope they catch fire.

1. A vote for Labor will be a vote for Greens.

That just shows gross ignorance of how our voting system works. Every single voter assigns their preferences exactly as they see fit. Preference deals are only about what the parties will *suggest* to people on their How to Vote Cards. A vote for Labor is only ever a vote for Labor. If you want to give preferences to the Greens, Family First or the Australian Nazi Party, that is entirely your own choice.

2. Ms Gillard is living in a de-facto relationship.

Which is exactly, 100% and in every way identical to a formalised marriage under the law. Please acquaint yourself with the law before spouting stupidities.

3. Ms Gillard’s public declaration that she is an Atheist and does not believe in God goes directly against 80% of Australians who believe in God or a god, according to the last Census

Actually, the correct figure is only 70.1% who claim to be religious, but 2.1% of those are Buddhist, so that makes 68% that believe in God or Gods. But Bog forbid that a PM could actually come from a *gasp* minority!

4. Ms Gillard does not have children.

So fucking what? The most common living arrangement in the country happens to be a single-person household. By their own logic, you could argue that only a PM who lives alone could properly govern the country.

5. Ms Gillard’s refusing to take the Oath on the Bible. Every court room has a Bible yada yada yada

It would be pretty meaningless to take on oath on something you think is a work of fiction. For this reason, Federal & Victorian courts offer alternate, secular oaths as an option, or oaths on other religious books. I can't be arsed checking the other jurisdictions, but I'd bet dollars to donuts they're the same. Once again, this idiotic rhetoric is very economical with the truth. I think there's actually some kind of commandment against that sort of way of speaking...
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:16 PM on July 28, 2010

Ubu, I'm glad you took the time to refute Catch the Fire's points.

But really...
posted by wilful at 8:38 PM on July 28, 2010

It's OK; there's no commandment against shooting fish in a barrel.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:55 PM on July 28, 2010

So, the Coalition are leading in the polls, I'm told.

Which leaves me quite speechless, frankly.

If we have Tones as PM, my wife and I are seeking an internet filter that blocks Australian news sites. Full on hermit mode for us I think.

Actually, it could lead to a creative flowering, like under Thatcher.
posted by wilful at 2:48 PM on July 30, 2010

I'd like to see some Monte Carlo simulations of swings in marginal seats before I start believing the Libs will actually win (I'm sure Possum will come good with that any day now). The only thing keeping me sane at the moment is the sure and certain knowledge that whoever gets into power will have to fight their way past the Greens in the senate.
posted by Jimbob at 7:47 PM on July 30, 2010

Oh, and the closeness of this election hasn't made it more interesting to me. It's just made it more completely fucking ridiculous.
posted by Jimbob at 7:50 PM on July 30, 2010

It's more interesting for some than for others.
posted by Wolof at 7:57 AM on July 31, 2010

There's a good idea about the creative burst, wilful. I thought we were almost there with the anti-Howard feeling, but perhaps his bland persona isn't as inspiring as a pair of budgie-smugglers might be.
posted by harriet vane at 6:07 AM on August 1, 2010

I have already ostracised local media to an extent but unfortunately not so sufficiently that I haven't noticed the gobsmackingly parlous state labor now finds itself in. And it annoys me no end. Not because I don't think JG and her henchmen shouldn't be made to twist in the breeze for a bit because of the knifing of the Ruddbot, but because the fuckers are going to make me have to vote for them rather than just give them the preference. BASTARDS!
posted by peacay at 6:28 PM on August 1, 2010

The Tasmanian senate candidate list has been released, and I notice there is a "Climate Change Skeptic" party, who believe climate change is a lie sold by leftists to impede economic growth yadda yadda fucking yadda.

The weird thing is, the two major parties co-opted that policy before the "Climate Change Skeptic" party even existed.
posted by Jimbob at 6:35 PM on August 1, 2010

This video raised in my estimation the credibility of the Australian Sex Party (well previously I thought they were like the More Beer party at student union elections), but did nothing to make me think Family First were any better.
posted by wilful at 9:44 PM on August 1, 2010

Wow, wilful. Nothing like talking over the top of someone, refusing to answer questions, and sticking your fingers in your ears and going "NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NLALALALALALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU" to give your party the recognition it so sorely deserves.

Mate of mine is voting sex party/greens/everyone else/majorparty1/majorparty2/family first. Think I'll do the same. Of course, I still have to figure out which of the major parties to put first...

posted by coriolisdave at 4:57 PM on August 2, 2010

Looks like I can't have much fun for the house of reps in my electorate. Labor, Liberal, Greens, and some anonymous accountant. The senate vote is a bit better; there's a "Secular Party" I can throw some preferences to. There's the "Climate Skeptic" party I can put last, because they're probably even more stupid than Family First. I don't think I'll put the Shooters and Fishers last because, strangely enough, those blokes are sometimes into preserving bits of nature instead of chopping it down.

No. No actually I'm going below the line and putting Eric Abetz last. That guy just shits me.
posted by Jimbob at 5:56 PM on August 2, 2010

More from the sex party.
posted by Jimbob at 7:32 PM on August 2, 2010

Jimbob, check this awesome tool out. Print your own below the line ticket.

I'm now voting for either the Democrats or Sex Party. They both put each other ahead of all others, and Greens ahead of Labor ahead of Coalition ahead of Fundies Frist.
posted by wilful at 9:09 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

What the hell? One Nation is still running Senate candidates in Qld?

Whelp, we have a new front-runner for last on my voting ticket, then.
posted by coriolisdave at 11:39 PM on August 2, 2010

Yeah, that senate ballot is littered with political zombies. The Democratic Labor Party still stands candidates? The Australian Democrats still exist outside their native territory of the Adelaide Hills?
posted by Jimbob at 12:41 AM on August 3, 2010

Hero retakes mantle
posted by Wolof at 7:36 AM on August 5, 2010

That's a great expression on Abbot's face. "ARGH GET IT OFF ME GET IT OFF ME"
posted by coriolisdave at 3:28 PM on August 5, 2010

Howard should preserve his energy for his ambitions in cricket administration.

He's not wanted there, either, but at least his track record is better.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:55 PM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

The High Court has ruled in favour of Get Up on the challenge to Howard's Electoral Act changes.
posted by GeckoDundee at 8:28 PM on August 5, 2010

Jessica Rudd's book looks interesting.
posted by Wolof at 7:53 PM on August 7, 2010

More light entertainment from QLD Family First candidate Wendy Francis; Gay = Child Abuser. And lots more where that came from.
posted by Jimbob at 7:26 PM on August 8, 2010

Well, I think that taking kids to McDonald's is child abuse. I doubt that would win me many votes out in McMansionland, though.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:01 PM on August 8, 2010

Guy Rundle:

So let’s recap … two months ago, several key factional (actually small, state-based gangs, formed, like the big C, around the most powerfully malignant cell) leaders in the ALP organised the deposition of a sitting Prime Minister who had beaten John Howard, because a series of polls suggested that their primary vote was too low to guarantee victory, especially in key outer-suburban seats.

The sub-factional heavies acted swiftly, at least in part, to head off News Ltd’s obvious destabilisation campaign spruiking Julia Gillard — even though said heavies may have been leaking stuff to the papers to aid this campaign, because Kevin Rudd swore at them.

Having replaced the leader of the country in a few hours of meetings in offices away from the public gaze, said heavies then went immediately into an election based on a selling point of stability through incumbency, made an obvious lie about their capitulation to the mining industry, then having failed to go on the offensive and put the Coalition on the back foot over WorkChoices, opposing the stimulus, and hungrily eyeing a carve-up of Medicare, spent the first two weeks losing ground to the Coalition, proposing disconnected gimmicks such as the citizens assembly on climate change (remember that? A week is a long time in politics) and then relaunching her campaign by saying that the real her hadn’t even been present since the poll was called.

Now a fortnight later, with Tony Abbott having survived an appearance on Red Faces, an off-colour “no doesn’t mean no” reference, the leader of the Opposition is appearing next to so many babies that if he opened a petting zoo, the dingo standing beside him would have one in its mouth, and simultaneously selling a combination of the Pacific solution “from day one”, scaling back the stimulus without creating unemployment, and pushing a business-tax funded parental leave plan of near-Scandinavian generosity while rolling back the nanny state.

At this point, Abbott refused to accept the challenge by Gillard of a second debate that she’d earlier refused to have, while the factional heavies got Kevin Rudd (a character killed off in an earlier chapter) back in to save the election, while simultaneously sorting out the numbers to decide the next leader of the Opposition.

The fake Andrew Bolt, who does a satire blog in the Herald Sun, threatened legal action against the real Andrew Bolt, a twitterer, and, as far as I can tell, then removed that entry from his blog, after 30 “Andrew Bolt” twitter accounts flowered in a day. Then chorus of horror at what a vacuous anti-election this had become was then joined by of all people Paul Kelly saying — Paul effin Kelly saying — that the politics of the major parties were too sameish and devoid of ideas. Finally, Tony Abbott launched the Coalition campaign by claiming that having a family made you a conservative.

Have I got that right? I mean have I got that right? Cos I don’t know how the election looks from over there, but from over here — at a cafe in the shadow of Seville Cathedral, admiring the Islamic tile work on the walls of the Alcazar palace, while sharing a half-bottle of amontillado with a young woman who has never seen Andalusia before — it looks like sh-t. Beyond sh-t. Meta-sh-t.

M’esteemed colleague Dr Bahnisch asked why, given so many people think this election is boring, what with all the hi-jinks and pile in of ex-PMs (what a pity Billy McMahon couldn’t be persuaded to say a few words. Could son Julian McMahon be persuaded to deputise in his place? Again?). The answer is because boredom arises not from a lack of activity, but from a lack of meaningful activity.

This election is boring in the way other people’s recounted dreams are boring — because the disconnect between a genuine public political process, and what is going on now, is so total that anything can now follow from anything, and none of it presents a real case about how we should organise things, how we should live our lives, which is what politics is meant to be about.

How the hell did it get to this point? A point where everyone is throwing up their hands in exasperation at a farcical, self-parodic process, while simultaneously serving it at every moment? Was it the Labor Party? The factional leaders? The sub-factional sub-leaders? The media? The system? The establishment? The man? That woman? Or, as m’colleague Keane suggests, youse*?

The answer, I think, is all of these and more, except youse, in some strict sense. From multiple separate sources, Australian democracy is in a pretty low state, but much of the breast-beating is a ritualised way of offering obeisance while continuing with business as usual, and short on analysis. It might be worth looking at the array of forces with a little more dispassion.

Australia entered this election campaign after the dumping of a centre-right Labor leader, busy applying a series of reforms in a fairly elitist, managerial top-down way. The reforms were overwhelmingly directed to tackling the increasing inequality that has become entrenched in Australia over past decades, and the systemic shift of public to private share of the economy. The Opposition that faced that government had been divided along moderate/hard-right lines burning through three leaders before hitting someone whom many in the party saw as a slightly demented religious neurotic.

Prompted by bad polling, by destabilising reports of leadership contention, the factional leaders replaced the Prime Minister without a vote — and then went to an election with nothing. Zip. Bupkis. No narrative, no argument, no story to tell, nothing to project — save, of course, for the incumbency of a Prime Minister in the job for a month. The gap allowed the Opposition — which had no story, and less than a full slate of candidates — to cobble one together, and go on the attack, with some success.

Labor responded with a series of disconnected initiatives that I hope to God were conceived in panic, because if they were planned then Labor is barely competent to drool. The press, led by a near-psychotically biased News Ltd stable fastened on these marginal pitches like cats playing with a bottle-top mobile, when they weren’t obsessing on Rudd, rivalry, and earlobes, at which point they were like dogs truffling their own scrotes.

This bedlam is surrounded by a wider funk among the general public — a mix of dissatisfaction without an object, fear of specific groups, a desire for real action on some things such as climate change, with a simultaneous wariness of larger schemes, or anything out of the order of things, such as a financial stimulus.

Institutionally, there is a comprehensive split between Australian political institutions and the more or less autonomous way they reproduce — two major parties, supported by taxpayers and exhaustive preferential voting, undergirded by compulsory voting — on the one hand, and the general public on the other. Living in an increasingly atomised society with a paucity of intermediary institutions that connect people to politics, they have more of a jaundiced attitude to politicians as a class than just about anywhere in the Western world, while the political class return the favour with a contemptuous attitude to them as a focus-grouped perennially polled lumpen-sample-tariat.

Bad political systems can be overcome by passionate parties representing a public will, in the absence of a pluralist and active debate; and a society with a public connected to a vigorous pluralist debate can overcome sclerotic parties.

Australia is in the invidious position of having all three — atomised social life is intersecting with a shallow and unreflective mainstream media (where it is not so biased and disinformational as to be malign), and both are intersecting with a set of political structures designed in the 1920s to set up both major parties as quasi-state apparatuses.

Given that the process is a circle, one can start anywhere. But let’s start with the parties. There’s no real mystery as to why the only group that is operating like a genuine party is the Greens — with a large and active membership, a clear philosophy that generates a program with a meaningful set of priorities. Labor and Liberal used to be like that too. How did they drift away from anything resembling a core philosophy?

For the Liberals, it was external factors — the Cold War held a contradictory philosophy of liberalism and conservatism together. As post-Cold War, globalised neoliberalism started in earnest, John Howard evolved a reasonably sophisticated version of this — a state-enforced social conservatism was necessary precisely because the forces of capitalism being unleashed were so atomising. The contradiction was the selling point. The trouble with this formula is that it doesn’t work for long, because the process just keeps on going — the GFC, climate change, cultural shifts.

A liberal-conservative party in this period really needs to rethink what its position is on how the market interacts with wider social life. It hasn’t done that so instead it offers a grab-bag-chest-thumping xenophobia on boats, Swedish-style parental leave mixed with commitments to tax cuts and surplus. It doesn’t begin to make sense. But it just needs to give the impression that it can all be held together.

Labor has a different problem. It abandoned its role of having a critical relationship to social process in the 1970s, and saw itself as managing the independent process of capitalism with a bit of re-direction in the Hawke/Keating years. What exchange there was between a wider world of ideas and programs (as opposed to mere policies) began to fall away in that period.

This was the worst possible time for that to happen, not because of Labor’s failures, but because of its success. Having established itself a century earlier to achieve, among other things, a certain standard of living, it had to a degree by the 1990s achieved that, albeit in a fairly limited partial way. Unable to push those gains further as a majority program (creating Medibank/Medicare in the ’70s/’80s was for all Australians, helping the long-term unemployed uses the taxes of the minority for a majority), it simply stopped thinking about what a new and more expansive majority program might be.

Having embraced the essentially anti-humanist ideal of neoliberalism — that people are nothing other than homo economicus —  it lost touch with the more expansive ideal that undergirds any progressive party, the ideal that people are more than a labour supply, a working class, a consumer group, whatever.

Had it retained that idea, Labor would have been talking more aggressively for years now, about quality of life in an expanded sense — in terms of a more flexible and varied relationship to work, of a wider variety of housing options, of transformed cities and the like. It would have presented Abbott’s parental leave scheme as its own years ago, and with a more expanded remit of leave and care options. It would be in the business of changing what Australians think of as what falls under the scope of being changeable, transformable, improvable.

The licensed cynics on the Right could argue that this is “elitist”. The plain fact is that progressive parties are always in the position of being “elitist”, if by that we mean challenging their own base and the wider population to want a better sort of life in ways that cannot be achieved through the cash nexus. It challenges people to be dissatisfied with things as they are, to reconceptualise them as changeable, and to aim for more.

Within the Labor Party, the Right tend to snort with contempt whenever any such suggestions are made. But quite aside from the actual point itself of making life better, there is the political point . When Labor stops doing this, when it stops taking on the big challenges, when it stops talking about society, life, etc, as projects to be grasped whole — then it simply runs out of things to talk about.

With the exception of the brief interregnum of Mark Latham — who genuinely did have transformative ideas despite his manifold faults now flagrantly on display — Labor has had zero ideas for a decade, to such a degree that Kevin Rudd’s very mild program looked like the Great Leap Forward by comparison. And that’s the point we have reached — where every morning Labor hacks pull micro-policies out of their a-se, along with the gruffnuts, to placate nine Hillsongers in Gunnamatta.

Why such a failure of ideas, especially on the Labor side? One could blame the sclerotic structures of Labor, the choking off any means other than lifelong sub-sub-factions or fronting Midnight Oil to make it to a position of some power, the creation of a monoculture of hacks? It’s partly that, but if there was a real groundswell of people with new ideas and demands, they would be banging at the door with such force that even the factional powers-that-be could not hold them down.

In that respect, one has to look at the systematic and relentless narrowing of debate in the large-scale mainstream media — in News Ltd, simply by turning the organisation into a right-wing propaganda machine of immense obviousness and crudity, and at Fairfax by largely dispensing with any sort of space for bigger ideas altogether — save for the moral panics of the SMH’s enormous roster of right-wing columnists.

With honourable exceptions, Fairfax has become a wasteland of blah economic comment within a narrow range of options, tedious political handicapping, and then a sprinkling of articles, in The Age primarily, that sound as if they came from a community services regional office social work newsletter. With the gradual shaving down, or closing down altogether, of sections that once had space for essays and longer pieces, with op-ed pages that never connect to a broader spectrum of intellectual and political history, the wider intellectual framework within which a more imaginative politics might evolve, is greatly diminished.

There is also the lack of a mid-level political-intellectual hinterland — with no weeklies of the order such as The Nation or the National Review in the US, and the only large-scale monthly, The Monthly, having turned out to be a timid and trailing exercise in colour-supplement reportage, and rather foolish as it turned out, Ruddolatry.

Some of this is simply a matter of economies of scale, but that excuse can be over used. These newspapers used to be better, both in quality, and, in News Ltd’s case, in terms of basic moral integrity. Australia used to have a range of mid-level publications — larger than the small magazines, smaller than the papers, that provided part of the conveyor-belt by which a continuous process of renovation was made possible.

Paul Kelly’s lament is ridiculous because, he as much as anyone, has been a key driver in making Australian political debate a narrowly focused discussion of methods for a series of unquestioned and undebated ends, a society measured solely by growth, and with the common good defined largely by corporate interest. To suddenly turn around and complain about the wasteland he helped create is either supremely obtuse or a bit bloody rich.

A lot of editors of such publications know this — they complain about proprietors, boards, and overwhelmingly of a lack of audience for such material. Fair enough. There’s some truth in that. But was that ever not so? Hasn’t it always been the case that a newspaper or magazine that believed itself to be doing something important, would try and push its readers to think more broadly, more widely, than political writing more appropriate to either covering the greyhounds, or Paris Hilton?

One of the reasons that the famed Age editor Graeme Perkin is periodically feted with a praise so excessive that it approaches ancestor worship, is that everyone is doing the precise opposite of what he was trying to do with The Age — and paying obeisance to his shade is a way of assuaging the guilt about publishing the nine-hundredth piece about S-x and The City, or some obvious 2000-word analysis of what Albo said to Ludwig, according to blah blah. Has the liberal middle audience collapsed to such a degree that more intelligent writing about life and society can no longer be sustained?

If it has, then it is because of the third part of the puzzle, the last element in the circle — the atomisation of public life, the alienation of anything resembling the political, from most people’s conception of their own lives. In the 1920s in Australia, a debate on control of banking between a socialist and a distributist could easily attract 500 people. In the 1940s, pamphlets by either the Communist Party or the NCC could sell in the tens of thousands. Into the ’70s and ’80s, the Nation Review and the National Times could push the envelope. Despite ever higher levels of education and literacy, that realm has substantially, though not totally, disappeared (indeed, this publication is one of its examples).

Here we come back to Bernard Keane’s lament that blame for the sorry state of Australian politics lies with the public. I sympathise with his frustration, but when you start blaming the people (and demanding that they be deposed and a new people installed, so the Party will not be let down), then it’s a fair bet that you’re barking up the wrong decision-tree. Far better to try and analyse what has occurred, why at some point, a decisive gap developed between political process and mass social life — developed, and then became a yawning chasm.

Twenty years ago, we — or the political elites — made a decision to shift the centre of gravity from public to private life, in a whole range of areas, from social expenditure, to pensions, to the question of work hours and wages, in every conceivable field. That is, of course, but of a larger global process — and one, to a degree beyond the control of individual governments — but we really ram-rodded it here, off a fairly collective base.

The result has been a certain type of society in which both the space for public life, and the means by which people without much social power could project themselves into it, has been diminished. Where in the 1980s we were talking — briefly — of the 35-hour week, we are now heading towards the 48-hour week (and two salaries, to afford a house), performed by people living in spec-built suburbs with little amenity, in under-serviced cities, and in conditions of diminishing, not increasing, social mobility for themselves and their children.

In these circumstances, the private choice — the cable TV, the McMansion, the retreat to the home space and to the defiant, antinomian cry (much heard in the UK election) “I don’t do politics” — becomes overdetermined, becomes the only real choice there is. Yet even as people pursue their lives in the wilderness of plasmas, they are privy to a never-ending cascade of information informing them that a) the current way of life is politically, economically, and ecologically unsustainable and b) the gap between their lives and the levers of power is so huge there’s bugger all they an do about it in the current framework.

Those things that need a public sphere in order to exist — such as the res publica, and a genuinely pluralist media — lapse into a non-democratic condition, the res publica as the realm of a caste of political professionals, the media as driven by cynical and self-defeating idea of “content delivery”. The parties narrow down to a core of pollsters and heavies, the public is further alienated, they become less interested in anything in the media which might be a little more expansive, which means the media stops challenging the parties, who then become yet more … and round it goes.

To blame the public for the changed conditions of their life, and the way that earlier decisions by an elite shaped their lives, is to finger the victim, not the culprit. A series of cave-ins, ducked battles, and soft options by the people who controlled parties, papers and powers, and a refusal to stand up to the genuinely malign, has brought us to this point. It seems distinctive in the world — there is a collapse of political legitimacy everywhere, but only in Australia have I seen this degree of total exasperation and frustration, combined with an inability, at the moment, to imagine how it could be done any other way. The topic is cancer, indeed.
posted by wilful at 9:13 PM on August 9, 2010

So, I take it that the Islamic tilework isn't all that interesting, then?
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:57 PM on August 9, 2010

Paid by the word, Ubu, paid by the word.
posted by wilful at 10:03 PM on August 9, 2010

Thanks wilful, that's now the extent of my understanding of the campaign and I'm damned glad that I've managed to avoid 99% of the shitmozzle MSM. The Oz parliament is a cesspool of talentless hacks (for the mostpart anyway) and I predict whichever party wins they will lurch from mudhole to crisis towards the following election. goD help us all.
posted by peacay at 12:56 AM on August 10, 2010

Am I to understand that some of m'steemed colleagues here take Rundle seriously?
posted by Wolof at 6:49 AM on August 10, 2010

I find Rundle to be a bit pedestrian.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:39 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

I rather prefer John Birmingham --

Two hundred and twenty million dollars would be an impressive chunk of change, even in the huge amount of dough carved out of the federal tax take for education.

Much less impressive however is Julia Gillard is wasting that much on a naked and sadly desperate bribe for the god-bothering lobby.

We’ve all read the words ''chronic'', ''underfunding'' and ''state school system'' placed one after the other so many times now that I hesitate to do so again, lest your eyes roll back in your heads, your brain functions flatline and you all start thinking of Wendy Francis as a reasonable choice for your upper house vote.

But I’m gonna do it anyway. Because the chronic underfunding of the state school system makes a travesty of the ALP's election promise to throw hundreds of millions of dollars at untrained, unsupervised and very often unwanted school chaplains – and all because Gillard has a problem with drooling creationists and happy-clappers, people so irredeemably foolish and ignorant that they would assign supreme executive power on the basis of whether or not somebody claimed to be friends with their invisible friend.

It fair does me head in guvnor, it does, to think of the number of teachers aides you could fund with that money. The number of books you could buy for school libraries. The number of school libraries you could build, in spite of The Australian’s brave campaign to ensure the current stock of school buildings is the last we shall ever construct as a nation.

What is it about the school chaplaincy program that makes it so special that it should get funding that would be much better spent on … oh, I don’t know … education or something?

A simple question with an even more simple answer, of course. The religious nutters are organised in a way that those of us smart enough to get through life without the need for fairy dust and magic spells are not, and you’re really seeing the effects of that on the fringes of this election. If Gillard has done one thing since seeing off the Ruddbot, it’s been to draw out the whackjobs and bigots from the invisible friend lobby. To briefly scan their efforts since the poll was called is to see an increasing ugliness of mind concerning her marital status, childlessness, and of course her lack of belief.

Perth’s Catholic Archbishop Barry Hickey worried that 'Many Christians are concerned that someone who does not believe in God may not endorse the Christian traditions of respect for human life, for the sanctity of marriage and the independence of churches, church schools and church social welfare agencies''.

By ''sanctity and independence'' I think he might have meant ‘''tax-free status''.

And while Family First’s Wendy Francis scored her first real hit of notoriety this week for comparing gay parenthood to child abuse, she warmed up with this tweet about Gillard on August 7:

''First Prime Minister in a de facto relationship shows her willingness to degrade marriage and the family unit.''

Yes. The PM shacked up with her hairdresser because she hates your family and wants to destroy them.

It’s that kind of close-minded, hateful thinking that Gillard is trying to bring around with her $220m inducement. But the thing about that sort of thinking? It is never going to be satisfied.

Being based entirely on the dictates of faith in the unprovable, there are no limits to the demands it will make. Pony up a couple of hundred million for school chaplains today? Where’s the billion you promised us for faith-based initiatives tomorrow? Yes, your internet filter meets with our approval, but what about repealing those anti-discrimination laws so we can really give the faggots a kickin'? Oh, and it’s not really good enough for us that you fund a bunch of preachy ''pregnancy counsellors'' to talk women out of abortions. We’d like to talk to you about banning birth control altogether.

Who will rid me of these turbulent god-botherers? Not Jules, apparently.

posted by coriolisdave at 1:54 PM on August 10, 2010

Not to disagree with what John Birmingham wrote above, overall I've discovered that he's a crypto-fascist douchebag. Give me Guy Rundle any day over him.

I'm reasonably strong in my atheism and secularism, and can't abide the thought of Australia becoming more like the USA with it's god-bothering ways, but the simple fact of the matter is that the limited studies that have been undertaken show that the school chaplaincy program has been a resounding success.

I would like to see the money on independent counsellors rather than religious sorts, but the simple fact of the matter is that they aren't nearly as cheap.
posted by wilful at 5:34 PM on August 10, 2010

I do think Rundle's a bit in love with the sound of his own voice, but he's one of the few people even trying to make sense of the current political landscape in Australia so I'll give him a pass this time. Like everyone else I'm sick of the trivial earlobes and budgie smugglers level of discussion, which at least is more entertaining than Paul Kelly's moronic 'narratives'. Plus, I did think Keane was barking up the wrong tree on the "it's all your fault" theory.

Why on earth should the public get passionate about politics and democracy if the people most involved in it treat it like a mere horse race, just a way to feather their own nests? As Rundle says, no-one's really happy with the status quo, but very few people see any way they can make a difference. The factions have Labor sewn up tight, and the Liberals seem to require you to be a lawyer, merchant banker, or faux blue-blood to get a look in. The minor parties are seeing a lot of interest, but they're not really cohesive enough for the general public yet.

The Greens appear to be different from that, which is why they're attracting so much cautious interest lately. I honestly think most of their appeal is that they seem to actually give a shit about Australia's future. Maybe they'll get it right, maybe they won't - but at least they're making a serious effort.

I hope we're at a turning point, where we figure out how to fix the serious problems facing our society and explore how to do democracy 21st century style. But I worry that we won't sort it out quickly enough.
posted by harriet vane at 8:11 AM on August 11, 2010

Like most people, my collection of Facebook "friends" is dominated by people I vaguely know from primary school or high school or Scouts or my first job stacking shelves at Big W, who haven't spoken to since. A random selection of diesel mechanics, crane operators, 30-year old mothers, nurses. Apart from one guy, a contrarian who's been teaching English in Japan for the last ten years and likes posting Liberal Party Youtube videos, the only political comments I've seen from any of these people is support for the Greens. The meme that they are a bunch of radical watermelons seems to be rapidly fading, during this campaign in particular, since they seem positively sensible and reasonable compared to the obviously cynical game being played by Labor and Liberal. And I don't think the media is lumping them in with the spectrum of other "minor parties" anymore. Sure, they don't get a chance to speak at many debates, but loads of commentary made in regards to the polls or policy references the position of the Greens. Another typical attack on the Greens is "They'll never be in power so they never have to worry about paying for any of the things they promise!" - well I haven't seen any costings from the various parties for this election, but I remember in the recent Tasmanian election, the cost of the Greens' election commitments came in between the costs of Liberal and Labor.

Of course, this ain't going to transform into lower house seats, but I remain extremely confident that they will have a strong showing in the senate. And that's the only positive I can see from this election.
posted by Jimbob at 5:09 PM on August 11, 2010

My mother-in-law, by the way, a life-long Labor supporter who previously worked for the unions, declared "Oh screw them, I'm joining the Greens, where's their website?" upon hearing about Gillard's Community Climate Change Forums on the news.
posted by Jimbob at 5:14 PM on August 11, 2010

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